Anti-Semitism has become an important subject of discussion in the wake of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting and the anti-Semitic remarks made by politicians such as Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib.
On May 2, The Heritage Foundation held an event that focused on this issue titled “Defeating Anti-Semitism at Home, Abroad and on Campus.”The featured speakers included The Honorable Lee Zeldin (R-NY), Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and Co-chair of the House Republican Israel Caucus; Rabbi Andrew Baker, Director of International Jewish Affairs for the American Jewish Committee and Special Envoy (anti-Semitism)for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe;Max Samarov, Executive Director of Research & Strategy for StandWithUs, and Matthew Knee,Director of Campaign Data Solutions for WPA Intelligence. Discussions focused on how anti-Semitism manifests itself today and how we can combat it.
Rabbi Andrew Baker pointed out how anti-Semitism has manifested in Europe. Rabbi Baker pointed out that “…right-wing political parties with anti-Semitic themes are a real presence in Europe and even if we pushed them back in Central and Eastern Europe 25 years ago, they are returning and they are significant in Europe as the European enterprise itself begins to wane.’ In addition to anti-Semitism coming from far-right political parties, “The real issue for a number of western European countries had been anti-Semitism coming from parts of the Arab and Muslim communities, and governments (some even today) have been unwilling to really recognize this”. .” Regarding the second point, France, for example, has a government that cannot legally identify people by religion. Many Muslims, who live in the United States have embraced a combination of Islamic ideas and Western ideas, and are therefore tolerant of other faiths.
Muslim migrants to Europe, however, largely do not share the same values as American Muslims and have made Jews afraid to wear traditional Jewish clothing in public and go to Jewish events. Finally, anti-Semitism has also come from the left. Rabbi Baker explained how “…the very kind of anti-Semitism that would be expressed about Jews will now be expressed in a way where Israel becomes the personification of this…” Examples of left-wing anti-Semitism include pro-Israel demonstrations being shut down because police cannot guarantee security and pro-Palestine demonstrations incorporating anti-Semitic language and even attacking synagogues.
Max Samarov aims to combat anti-Semitism on college campuses. Samarov stated that “…one of the main sources of support for anti-Israel campaigns on campus is an off-campus group called American Muslims for Palestine or AMP. AMP officials have historic ties to Hamas and AMP leaders and speakers have also engaged in anti-Semitism, homophobia, denial of the Armenian genocide, and praise for jihadist terrorist groups,” AMP can negatively influence college students by spreading their hateful views. Another problem on college campuses is left-wing anti-Semitism. “Far-left anti-Semitism is a unique challenge. On the one hand, this brand of hate is less of an immediate threat to the lives of American Jews than white supremacy or Islamist extremism…on the other hand, this is by far the easiest brand of anti-Semitism to promote on campus.” This form of anti-Semitism is embraced by leftist college students because it is “…masked in the language of anti-racism, social justice, progressivism, and human rights.”
Samarov believes that the Jewish people are strong and not victims. He said “…to overcome toxic narratives on campus we have to tell a compelling story of our own. Jews are a people who built a thriving civilization and culture in ancient Israel, who were crushed by imperial powers and had to overcome 1,900 years of brutal oppression across Europe and the Middle East, who, despite everything, managed to regain their freedom and build thriving communities and cultures in Israel and America which make the world a better place.”
Republican Lee Zeldin has taken a stand against anti-Semitism in Congress. He and others took issue with Congresswoman Ilhan Omar accusing American Jews of having dual loyalty and claiming that Jewish money funneled through AIPAC was buying politicians’ support for Israel. Rep. Zeldin mentioned how many Democrats refused to call out Omar for her anti-Semitic comments. A resolution to condemn anti-Semitism “…was watered down— it became a spineless ‘all hate matters’ resolution filled with equivocation and filled with double standards. If Congresswoman Omar were a Republican, it would have named names. It would have been singularly, emphatically, forcefully focused on condemning anti-Semitism and she would have been removed from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.”
He said that although other Democrats in Congress are not necessarily anti-Semitic themselves, “…they seem to be providing cover— they don’t mind those positions and that rhetoric. They have a base back home in their districts that is pro-BDS, so even if they’re not pro-BDS themselves, they have people in their districts who volunteer for them and support those who are. There are people who know better but are making a political calculation not to do anything about it…”. Zeldin suggested that in order to combat political anti-Semitism, members of Congress need to oppose Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) legislation and condemn politicians such as Ilhan Omar, who make anti-Semitic statements.
Matthew Knee said that anti-Semitism “…exists on both the right and the left, but right-wing anti-Semitism in the United States has been almost entirely politically marginalized. No one who matters is really standing up for these people, but left-wing anti-Semitism is gaining a foothold and advancing as a true political force.” Furthermore, white nationalists “…certainly commit their share of atrocities; however, no one has really been able to show that they are a political constituency of a meaningful size in this country.
There are at most 8,000 Klansmen, and studies indicate that the vast majority of hateful Twitter activity in 2016 came from a relatively small number of accounts. When they try to have rallies, the best they’ve ever been able to do is a couple hundred people.” Anti-Semitism from the left is not condemned by nearly as many people. Leftists often ignore anti-Semitism that comes from minorities due to the leftists’ adherence to intersectionality. Jews have been very successful, and therefore do not count as one of the left’s ‘oppressed groups.’
Knee said that “…since oppressed groups cannot be racist against oppressor groups by definition, anti-Semites who are collectively considered more oppressed get a pass.” In order to combat left-wing anti-Semitism, “Those who wish to work within the Democratic Party can try to hold the line in more moderate district primaries to keep the number of anti-Semitic politicians from growing.” For conservatives, “Republicans holding Democrats responsible for anti-Semitic policies and statements could make it easier to pressure moderate Democrats into doing the right thing. Already, two swing-district candidates to whom Congresswoman Omar has transferred money have returned it. Anyone concerned with anti-Semitism regardless of party affiliation should be happy to see serious electoral costs imposed for cozying up to those guilty of anti-Semitic words and deeds.”